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Musicians' Health & Wellness - MUS00126H

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  • Department: Music
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Naomi Norton
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21
    • See module specification for other years: 2021-22

Module summary

This project will help you to develop awareness and understanding of your health and wellness as a musician, how that affects your ability to sustain a career as a musician, and how you may influence other musicians' health and wellness. Throughout this project the term 'musician' will be used to refer to someone who studies or practises in the field of music within one or more specialist fields including, but not limited to, music performance, education, composition, conducting, technology, and therapy.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2020-21

Module aims

During this project you will read and actively engage with material from the disciplines of Performing Arts Medicine, Music Education, and Health Psychology in order to:

  • consider what it means for musicians to be ‘healthy’ and ‘well’ in their lives and careers;
  • investigate factors that can affect musicians’ health and wellness;
  • explore how health and wellness affects musicians' performance in a variety of professional activities;
  • and identify strategies that can be used by or with musicians to improve their health, wellness, and performance.

Seminars will include a variety of learning activities designed to enable you to learn independently and also engage in knowledge exchange and peer support within the group. A key aim of this project is to encourage you to analyse musical environments and identify changes that could be made to enable musicians to support and enhance their health, wellness, and performance. You will not be required to share personal health information during seminars and assessments will not require you to focus on your own health and wellness, though you may if you would like to.

Module learning outcomes

On completion of the project, all students should:

  • be aware of definitions of health and wellness and what they mean in relation to the function and dysfunction of the musician’s body and mind;
  • show understanding of models of behaviour change and how they relate to musicians’ health, wellness, and performance;
  • demonstrate awareness of ethical considerations surrounding the topic of music, health, and wellness.
  • be able to identify and discuss influences on your personal health, wellness, and performance and/or your wider role as someone who influences the health, wellness, and performance of other musicians;
  • and demonstrate an ability to assess factors affecting musicians and identify appropriate strategies to enhance their health, wellness, and performance and prevent the development or progression of performance-related problems.

On completion of the module, in their independent work, third year students should demonstrate learning outcomes C1-6, C7 and C9.


Task Length % of module mark
Literature review essay
N/A 50
Reflective essay
N/A 50

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

During the project students will be expected to keep a journal that will provide material for their reflective essay (50%), which will focus on one of the following three areas:

  • A topic chosen by the student focusing on factors affecting the student's personal health, wellness and performance
  • A topic chosen by the student focusing on the student's influence on the health, wellness and performance of other musicians
  • A topic chosen by the student focusing on factors affecting the health, wellness and performance of musicians in a stated environment

In addition, students will submit a 2000-word literature review on a topic of their choice that is relevant to module content and has been agreed with the course tutor (50%).


Task Length % of module mark
Literature review essay
N/A 50
Reflective essay
N/A 50

Module feedback

Report form with marks to student no later than 6 weeks from submission of assessment. 
(Note exemption to turnaround time)

Indicative reading

Due to the nature of the reading material APA referencing style is used throughout this project.

Ackermann, B., Kenny, D. T., O’Brien, I., & Driscoll, T. R. (2014). Sound practice – improving occupational health and safety for professional orchestral musicians in Australia. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(973).doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00973

Ascenso, S., Williamon, A., and Perkins, R. (2017). Understanding the wellbeing of professional musicians through the lens of positive psychology. Psychology of Music, 45(1), 65–81.

Chesky, K. S., Dawson, W. J., & Manchester, R. (2006). Health promotion in schools of music: Initial recommendations for schools of music. Medical Problems of Performing Artists, 21(3), 142-144.

Kenny, D. T. (2011). The psychology of music performance anxiety. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

MacDonald, R. A. R., Kreutz, G., & Mitchell, L. (Eds.). (2012). Music, health and well-being. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Matei, R., Broad, S., Goldbart, J., Ginsborg, J. (2018). Health education for musicians. Frontiers of Psychology, Retrieved 18 October from

Michie, S., van Stralen, M. M., & West, R. (2011). The behaviour change wheel: A new method for characterising and designing behaviour change interventions. Implementation Science, 6, 42-53.

Norton, N. C. (2016). Health promotion in instrumental and vocal music lessons: The teacher's perspective (Unpublished doctoral thesis). Royal Northern College of Music and Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK. 

Parker, S. L., & Amiot, C. E. (2019). Persisting with a music career despite the insecurity: When social and motivational resources really matter. Psychology of Music, OnlineFirst, 1–19.

Patston, T., & Waters, L. (2015). Positive instruction in music studios: Introducing a new model for teaching studio music in schools based upon positive psychology. Psychology of Well-Being, 5(1), 10-20.

Philippe, R. A., Kosirnik, C., Vuichoud, N., Williamon, A., & von Roten, F. C. (2019). Understanding wellbeing among college music students and amateur musicians in western Switzerland. Frontiers in Psychology, 10(MAY), 820.

Santucci, M. (2009). Protecting musicians from hearing damage: A review of evidence-based research. Medical Problems of Performing Artists, 24(3), 103-107.

Shoebridge, A., Shields, N., & Webster, K. E. (2017). Minding the body: An interdisciplinary theory of optimal posture for musicians. Psychology of Music, 45(6), 821-838.

Teague, A., & Smith, G. D. (2015). Portfolio careers and work-life balance among musicians: An initial study into implications for higher music education. British Journal of Music Education, 32(2), 177–193

Watson, A. H. D. (2009). The biology of musical performance and performance-related injury. Plymouth, UK: Scarecrow Press.

Willis, S., Neil, R., Mellick, M., & Wasley, D. (2019). The relationship between occupational demands and well-being of performing artists: A systematic review. Frontiers In Psychology, 10, 393.

Zander, M. F., Voltmer, E., & Spahn, C. (2010). Health promotion and prevention in higher music education: Results of a longitudinal study. Medical Problems of Performing Artists, 25(2), 54-65.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.